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How to open a self-service car wash

Year by year, the number of car owners is growing exponentially. People do not want to change from their cars to public transport or a bicycle. On the contrary, having two cars in each family is the norm these days.

It means that the number of car wash customers is also growing, and this business is becoming more profitable. Buying a car, the person automatically turns into a client of all related services.

Self-service car washes are one of the most promising business today.

Reasonable cost, fast and efficient washing, the lack of necessity to stand in line for a long time - these are just a few of the positive factors of a consumer visiting such a self-service car wash.

In Europe, self-service car washes were at the peak of popularity back in the early 2000s. As for Russia, it has only become more popular recently. It means, that the business still has little competition and it is a good time to confidently gain a foothold in this niche.

At the moment only 10% of car washes are equipped as a self-service stations in our country. Currently, according to experts, in Europe this figure is 60%. In Russia we will achieve such indicators by about 2025. The market has not yet begun to fill up, and the margin of this business has not fallen, so if you decided to buy a self-service car wash or implement this project yourself you should read our step-by-step instructions.

The profitability of self-service washing complexes depends on many factors , such as the population in the places of their construction, the location of residential areas, mega centers and hypermarkets and convenient access to the car wash itself. Of course another major factor is also the cost of the service itself.

There are European calculations of investment in car wash self-service complexes, which in practice are significantly different from Russia. The cost of technical conditions and approvals in Russia may vary, depending on the region and the population.

  • Typical car washes converted into a self-service car wash – using modular equipment.

    Pros: relatively inexpensive, allows you to get started quickly and you are not required additional approvals.

    Cons: a limited number of washing bays, generally there is no space for a wiping zone, difficulties in placing additional equipment and usually there is no through passageway which reduces the traffic of cars at a car wash.

  • Open-type self-service car wash complexes built from the scratch – mainly with using custom-made equipment for a specific project.

    Pros: you can choose any suitable site and location, vary the number of car wash bays and organize a through passage with wiping zone. This ensures profitability and high traffic of cars. Prefabricated metal canopy constructions on bolted joints reduce the installation time, and if necessary, you can move the object, after disassembling it for subsequent installation in a new location.

    Cons: bad weather conditions (sub-zero temperatures or strong winds) reduce the number of clients at the car wash.

  • Closed-type self-service car wash complexes, built from scratch – mainly equipped with custom-made equipment for a specific project.

    Pros: You can choose a site for construction in the best place and vary the number of car wash bays to organize a through passage and a wiping zone. This ensures high profitability and traffic of cars. Regardless of the season, it is convenient to wash a car in all weather conditions.

    Cons: high construction costs, additional ventilation costs, the need to install a gate for each bay. The increased size of the bay also requires an increased size of the site.

  • Closed-type self-service complexes, located in the hangar – mainly equipped with custom-made equipment for a specific project. It is possible to place equipment of a modular type.

    Pros: car wash at any time of the year, in all weather conditions. One entry and one exit, the gate installation for each bay is not required.

    Cons: the choice of the number of car wash bays is limited by the size of the room, the high cost of construction work and the additional cost of ventilation. No through passage at the washing bays reduces the traffic of cars.


One of the important elements of a self-service car washes is canopy constructions which, in addition to the aesthetic appearance, must be reliable and durable. Also, you should keep in mind that the construction will be subjected to aggressive influences (water, sand, chemicals, climatic temperature differences) so if the canopy is made of black painted metal, after a short time it will begin to rust. It is unlikely that you would want to close the facility for repair, at the peak of the work.

We recommend you to make a choice in favor of metal constructions made of high quality stainless steel. It will not lose its original appearance and will serve faithfully for decades. You can get acquainted with the offer on the canopy constructions page.



The cost of similar services at a classic car wash in your area minus 40 - 60% - TOP CALCULATION LIMIT

For example:

If the average cost of a car wash in your city is 250 rubles, then the cost of similar services at a self-service car wash should be no higher than 100-150 rubles.

Based on the experience of construction and operation of self-service washing complexes, we can say that the equipment and its installation make up about 32% of the total cost of the project, and the remaining 68% include:

  • Land registration
  • Documents preparation and obtaining technical specifications
  • Construction work

The payback period depends on the total cost of the project and the profit that it can bring. The presence of several programs allows car owners to choose the type of car wash that suits them, and due to the difference in prices will also save them money. This leads to a lot of pleasant impressions about your service. That’s why a car wash self-service complex should be built with the latest technology. Our company offers such equipment. The average return on investment is 24-30 months. A good location, a correct traffic scheme in the car wash and well-thought-out promotions will help to significantly increase the number of customers in the shortest time and reduce the payback period of the object.


The most difficult thing for businesspeople and investors is choosing the most profitable business for investment. Everyone wants to find something new, so that, on the one hand, the competition is minimal, and on the other, it is interesting to understand the nuances of work and learn something new. Self-service car washes are the most promising for investing money by far.

This type of business has a number of advantages that are not available to classic types of car washes. Namely, these are:

  • A minimum number of employees
  • Automation work saves you time and money
  • The quality of the car washing depends on the client
  • The transparency of financial movement allows you to openly conduct partnerships

A business start is certainly the hardest part of the job, but in the case of self-service car washes, most of the worries end at this stage. Investing in a car wash business is a complex and long process, and the timing of the work depends on many factors. On average, the whole process can take from 16 to 20 weeks.

  • Land selection and registration

    It is better to consider sites located near residential areas, shopping centers and parking lots. The number of customers may increase exponentially if a potential client can see your car wash from the road. The site should have convenient access to a road. You should take into account the placement of the wiping zone and auxiliary accessories (vacuum cleaners, carpets, sinks and other self-service devices) will give you additional competitive advantages placed on the site. For example, five car wash bays complex takes about 10 - 12 acres. Do not forget to check the documents of the land (regardless of whether you take the land for rent or purchase, examine all the papers carefully ).

  • Availability of communications and technical conditions

    Points of connection to utility networks should be in close proximity, such as a water supply, sewerage and electricity. On average, each washing bay consumes about 125 m3 of water per month. The required power is about 10 kW per bay (including street and indoor lighting, additional equipment).

  • Selection and purchase of equipment, stainless steel metal constructions

    Buy equipment only from trusted manufacturers. Saving on equipment will not only lead to its often repair, but can also lead to long downtime which will seriously reduce your revenues. The presence of spare parts in the warehouse of the supplier is one of the fundamental factors affecting the efficiency of further maintenance of the washing complex so it would be wise to pay special attention to this.

Carefully read the sections of our website and contact an ISELF specialist for additional advice. They will help you in choosing the configuration of equipment that will meet the interests of your project as well as calculate the cost of equipment and canopy constructions.


Summing up, we can say that the opening of a self-service car wash is economically feasible and profitable. Learn in detail all the step-by-step actions and this business venture will not seem impossible.

A great positive aspect of opening a self-service car wash business is that you can quickly achieve high rates of profit. Careful preparation, assessment of all risks and opportunities will help you create a business that will grow and develop successfully.

We hope that our article helped you to structure in your head all the answers to the questions that you may have asked at first on the topic of opening a self-service car wash. We wish you good luck in your endeavors and profitable business!